The Lakers’ 47-day coaching search was obviously conducted thoroughly and methodically, living up to Rob Pelinka’s promise. The team has finally found their new leader in Darvin Ham, who they believe will instill, in his own words, “a pragmatic and hard-working approach” to the organization.
But before signing a deal with Ham to be the 28th head coach in franchise history, the Lakers’ eyes would have been on someone else. Apparently, just like the last time they hired a new coach, the Lakers couldn’t find their first-choice candidate. Above the rest of the many names they were linked to, the Lakers would have preferred current University of Michigan head coach Juwan Howard.
According to NBA veteran Marc Stein, the Lakers were determined to give Howard the keys to lead the team. Stein flagged on its sub-stack that the Lakers went so far as to hint to Howard that the head coaching job was his if he wanted it.
The most interesting thing I’ve heard while waiting for Ham’s official introduction is that according to the latest buzz in league coaching circles, Michigan’s Juwan Howard was the Lakers’ preferred candidate of the various coaches to whom they were related and who were under contract. elsewhere and therefore ultimately unavailable – ahead of Doc Rivers of Philadelphia and Quin Snyder of Utah.
The Lakers, I was told, made such strong overtures to Howard that the implication was clear: the job was his if he wanted it. As reported here on May 2, Howard in turn made it clear throughout the Lakers’ 47-day search that — despite his long associations with James and Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka — he had no interest in leaving the college game behind. in Michigan and the opportunity to coach his sons Jace and Jett next season.
Obviously, that didn’t work out, as Howard wouldn’t even bother to sit down with Pelinka and Co. for an interview. Howard, who was a teammate of Pelinka during their timeshare at Michigan, was also considered for the vacant coaching job in 2019 when he reportedly impressed the front office during the job interview.
But this time it was Howard who denied the Lakers’ advances despite his ties to Pelinka and LeBron James – for good reason. It seems that Howard is determined to train his sons Jace and Jett for the Michigan Wolverines.
Still, there’s reason to think this process can work for Los Angeles. Remember, in 2019 Ty Lue and Monty Williams turned down offers from the Lakers, instead coaching two of their biggest Western Conference rivals. The purple and gold finally settled on Frank Vogel, who carved out an elite defense and led the Lakers to their 17th championship in 2020.
So while Ham, like Vogel, wouldn’t have been their first choice, the franchise still hopes their new head coach can get them back to the top of the mountain.